Reading Film and Television Texts: Shot Types

Long Shot


  • Full body shot.
  • Possible meanings: create emphasis on the positioning or movement of the body as a whole, as in a musical song and dance number.
  • Establish or stress or a character’s situation within a particular environment.

Extreme Long Shot


  • Full body appears small and secondary in the frame to its surrounding environment.
  • Possible meanings: create a sense of epic scale.
  • Creates a sense of a character’s isolation, vulnerability or relative insignificance within a large environment.

Close Up


  • The top edge of the frame cuts off at the forehead and the bottom edge of the frame cuts of at the chin.
  • Possible meanings: emotional/psychological intimacy.
  • It can encourage empathy between the viewer and the character.
  • It can be cheeky or disturbing based on the character.
  • It can highlight nuances of thought or emotion.
  • Could be used to unnerve the viewer by visual proximity to a disturbing or sinister character.

Extreme Close Up


  • Isolates a single anatomical part within the frame e.g. eyes, mouth.
  • Possible meaning: could be used to create a sense of lustful or obsessive interest in what we can see through a focus on biological detail.
  • Could be used to obscure the identity of a character, or to create an unnerving effect through extreme proximity to a character.

Shot Angles


  • Low angle: camera positioned below the eye line of its subject, angled upwards.
  • Gives impression of power and importance to the subject.
  • High angle: camera positioned above the eye line of its subject, angled downwards.
  • Can give the impression of diminished power and vulnerability to the subject.

Depth of Field and Focus

  • Camera and TV screens are flat, but the image offers the illusion of depth.
  • Near field: that which appears closest to us.
  • Far field: that which appears farthest away.
  • Shallow focus: near field in focus.
  • Background focus: far field in focus.
  • Deep focus: both fields in focus.
  • Soft focus: often connotes romance or an idealised view of someone (in the early days of film Vaseline was smeared on the camera lens to give this effect).
These notes are from my semester one lectures and seminars.
I do not own the above images, they are from:,,,, and

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